US condemns apparent Eritrean offensive in Tigray

'This is of extreme concern and must stop,' says US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer

Eritrean forces have reportedly launched a full-scale offensive in Tigray. AFP
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The US on Tuesday condemned reports that Eritrea has launched a full-scale offensive in Ethiopia's embattled Tigray region.

Tigrayan forces said troops from neighbouring Eritrea launched the assault early on Tuesday and that heavy fighting was continuing in several areas along the border. Tigray spokesman Getachew Reda said the Eritreans had launched “a full-scale offensive” along all fronts.

A humanitarian worker in the northern Ethiopian town of Adigrat told the Associated Press that Eritrean forces were shelling the surrounding areas.

“This is of extreme concern and must stop,” US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer told reporters.

“The presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia complicates matters, and inflames an already tragic situation.”

Eritrean forces fought on the side of Ethiopian federal troops in Tigray when war broke out in November 2020. Their forces were implicated in some of the conflict's worst atrocities, though Asmara has denied involvement.

Mr Hammer recently returned to the US from Ethiopia, where he encouraged efforts for an immediate stop to the fighting between Addis Ababa and the Tigrayan regional authorities in African Union-led peace talks.

On that trip, Mr Hammer said he asserted that the biggest barriers in the current state of peace negotiations are “trust, trust, and trust.”

“There's no confidence on either side and that the other can't be trusted,” he said.

“They are basically two sides to one family, and families can be very rough.”

Mr Hammer also discussed his recent trip to the UAE at Tuesday's press conference, noting that Washington's Gulf partners can play an important role in bringing stability to Ethiopia.

“We very much appreciate our discussions with our Emirati friends and partners. They bring their own perspective, and they understand the region supremely well,” the special envoy said.

“It's only through us all working in concert, hopefully, bringing our own perspectives in helping the parties understand how to best to resolve the differences.”

Updated: September 20, 2022, 3:42 PM